Friday, October 2, 2009

If There's Blame When Things Go Badly, There Must Be Credit When Things Go Well

  • Two playoff appearances in three years are hard to criticize:

I am not a fan of Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd.

Before getting into the self-serving and somewhat out-of-line attempts to permeate his organization with players who adhere to "Christian values", we can simply look at the way he's run the club for the majority of his tenure.

Over and over again O'Dowd----who's been the Rockies GM for exactly ten years----pockmarked his first 7 1/2 years with the repeated altering of theories on how to build a club in the light air of Colorado. They went away from the bashers of Larry Walker, Andres Galarraga, et al to speed, gap hitter. That didn't work. They tried to sign big name free agent pitchers to huge contracts with Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle. That didn't work. They built through the farm system. That didn't work...until an unprecedented and borderline absurd hot streak sent the Rockies from a respectable season (for them, a team that had grown accustomed to winning between 68-74 games and going on about how things were "improving"----whatever that means) to the World Series.

The unexpected string of good fortune saved O'Dowd's job and bought him some time; time that was running out earlier this season as the Rockies, after their stumble to 74-88 last season, started this season 18-28 costing manager Clint Hurdle his job. O'Dowd was in jeopardy as well, but just like always, he assigned the blame to others while making claims of personal responsibility. There's more to taking the blame than lip service and self-indulgent claims of "everyone's responsible" while simultaneously absolving oneself. Be that as it may, new manager Jim Tracy sparked something in the Rockies that has led them to a playoff appearance and O'Dowd will again be the beneficiary of what can only be seen as blind luck.

He's done some positive things in his tenure. He's built his pitching staffs in the way they should be built by finding scrapheap pickups and either sticking them in the bullpen or giving them a chance to start. Who could've expected such above-and-beyond performances from journeymen Jorge De La Rosa, Jason Marquis and Jason Hammel? The Rockies have developed a large number of players such as Ubaldo Jimenez and Troy Tulowitzki to name two; but either O'Dowd's dedication to Christ is paying dividends or he's really, really lucky. The biggest move that was made was the change from Hurdle to the superlative Tracy.*

*Each and every smart thing Tracy does makes former Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta look more like a moron for running him out of Los Angeles; this pleases me endlessly.

It was obvious that the players had tuned Hurdle out and the relationship between the former manager and Tulowitzki had grown so rancid that one of them had to go. I liken it to a father/son situation where they couldn't co-exist in the same house.

There are worse GMs than Dan O'Dowd and I think any club, especially one with a limited payroll like the Rockies, would take two playoff chances in three years; but to give him credit for it is going over-the-top because the Rockies success emanates from the manager, not the GM. But the GM will undeservedly get some of the credit. That's just the way it is.

  • Huh?


Here's the headline and clip from an ESPN story that...well, you can judge for yourself:

Book: Williams' head abused at facility

The New York Daily News is reporting that Red Sox Hall of Famer Ted Williams' severed head was mistreated at an Arizona cryonics facility, according to details from a new book.

In "Frozen," Larry Johnson, a former executive at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz., writes that Williams' head, which had been severed and frozen for storage, was abused at the facility. Johnson claims a technician took baseball-like swings at Williams' frozen head with a monkey wrench.

Uh. Yah.

I'm rarely speechless. The last time I recall being speechless (in a context I can discuss on a PG-13 rated website anyway) was when a co-worker of my mother happened to get caught on camera during a news story about an aerobics class she attended. I walked into the office and opened my mouth prepared to say something snide and she raised one finger and said, "!!!!!" That shut me up in a surprisingly effective fashion. I'm again unable to comment. But without going into detail of what they could've been doing to Teddy Ballgame's severed and frozen head, I supposed taking baseball swings with a wrench is on the low end of the spectrum, for what that's worth.

  • Viewer Mail 10.2.2009:

Megan writes RE the free-falling Mets:

They still make Frankenberry? Damn. Well, I guess the Wilpons are banned form eating Wheaties. Quite honestly, Minaya kinda reminds me of Count Chocula. Got milk?

Milk? The Mets hierarchy abandoned the milk in July. By now the whole lot of them are preparing as a group to star as the newest posse of losers in the Captain Morgan ads for guys who literally couldn't function or interact in any facet of society unless said society was hopelessly and completely drunk.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Eric Wedge's firing and Joba Chamberlain:

I agree that the Indians should have waited until the end of the season to fire Wedge. What was the point of doing it now, with only a handful of games left? So silly. And stop saying Joba will never recover. He will. Maybe.

With some managers who've given agita to their bosses, I can see twisting the knife a bit even though it's a prick move; but Wedge has been a loyal soldier. Why do that to him?

As for Joba? I think he needs to pop off a little bit to the media. Maybe if he realized that the club needs him to succeed and has put themselves into this position by babying and coming close to ruining him, he's got a bigger hammer than I think even he understands; much bigger than most young players have. What more can they do to him that they haven't already done if he starts flapping to the media about how this has been handled?

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE the Mets:

Walk off grand slam. Ouch.

Okay, so say you get Valentine... then what? It's still the same busted, beat up team allergic to catching the ball. What would he do -- specifically -- to get those guys' heads out of their asses?

The Devil's Advocate was a good film.

First, there wouldn't be the bizarre strategic decisions; and as I've mentioned before, Valentine never publicly took on a player he needed to succeed. The veterans who might be leery of him, Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana for example, would be left alone. Valentine, as Machiavellian as he can be, was in a position in his first tenure with the Mets that he had an adversarial relationship with GM Steve Phillips. Such would not be the case with Omar Minaya, with whom he has a very good relationship.

He'd light a fire under the fan base and would state straight out what players like Daniel Murphy are and aren't and use him accordingly. The bullpen wouldn't be as abused as it's been by the three intervening managers since he was fired. His sheer presence would get opposing teams and the media back on their heels, putting an end to the relentless ridicule the club has taken since their successive collapses in 2007 and 2008 and the catastrophe that is 2009.

The mental mistakes would not go over again; the injuries that have befallen the club this year have been so varied and extensive that they can't, by law of averages, happen again. Like Tony La Russa, Valentine alone is worth 6-10 extra wins if the players buy into him and he's supported by the front office and after this year, the desperation will be enough to allow that to happen if they have the balls to do it.

David writes RE the Dodgers:

What is wrong with the Dodgers???!!!! Sorry, my questions are usually more specific than that, but we are aching here in LA over this, so pure emotion just came out.

This is a hallmark of Joe Torre teams. Either they get off to a brilliant start, build a lead and hold off their competitors while getting everyone to panic down the stretch; or they get off to a rotten start and go on a late-season tear to squeak into the playoffs. Aside from 1998, this has gone on going back to his days managing the Braves.

It's hard to pinpoint what the actual problem is. Could it be that he overuses his starting eight and his bullpen and they tire as the season drags on? Or is it that his old-school training techniques in spring training don't prepare his players for the long season? It doesn't really matter. Unlike recent collapses from other clubs who shall remain nameless, the Dodgers are in the playoffs even if they blow the division, which I don't think they'll do.

The key to everything will be Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Broxton and what they do in the playoffs. They're going to the playoffs. Torre's teams have recovered from late-season slumbers before and how they play this weekend is largely irrelevant. Save the concerns for next week.

John Seal writes:

Sorry to be a grammar Nazi, but you misused the word 'reticent' when referring to pitching coach John Farrell. The word you should have used was 'reluctant'. According to Merriam-Webster, 'reticent' means 'inclined to be silent or uncommunicative in speech'.
You could say "John Farrell's reticence regarding the Cleveland manager's position suggests he is not interested in the job", or "Paul Lebowitz is the reticent type unwilling to commit on matters of baseball opinion". Hey, even lies should be grammatically correct, right?

Et tu, John?

Like Caesar, I'm surrounded by enemies and something is underway.

People spend their whole lives striving to be a Boss only to find criticism at every turn; every move is scrutinized and the power is occasionally not worth the fringe benefits of the job.

Ah, the insubordination and stress never ends. This has been a bad week.

First, my consigliere has gone so far off the deep end that she's filming herself talking to a doll that she considers her alter-ego. Then, my Mid-West capo and what was developing into a valuable associate in Pennsylvania take turns and revel in battering me for the revelation that I occasionally happen to walk by the TV while Dr. Phil is on; and now my West Coast spiritual adviser is correcting my word usage.

There are two courses of action here. A bloodletting as an example to the lower level soldiers or a powerful statement to put an end to the questioning of my authority. A decision will come presently. The key word at the top of the page is "ruthless". I didn't make it here on my good looks. I could've, but didn't.

It ain't easy functioning as one's own editor and writing this stuff, making it coherent and readable. I'm pretty good at it, but occasional errors cannot be helped. Albert Pujols makes an out 67% of the time too.

As for the debate of the word "reticent", I stand by it as the word is a synonym for "nervous", "sheepish", or what would admittedly have been a better word choice "hesitant".

The Boss has spoken. Let it be so.

1 comment:

She-Fan said...

You mean all we have to do to render you speechless is to say "" Wow. That was easy! I'll remember that.